help me keep intellectual standards high

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Jim B.
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Re: help me keep intellectual standards high

Post by Jim B. » Wed Dec 09, 2015 2:48 am

met wrote:
Its a philosophical question - and one that crosses the theist/atheist boundary even - whether or not that idea "do what isn't in line with who the person happens to be" even makes any sense... :)
Doing what isn't in line with who you happen to be makes sense unless you're a hard determinist. If who we are, including what we happen to most strongly desire at the moment, always necessitates what we do, then how can we be said to be free or even accountable for what we do?

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met
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Re: help me keep intellectual standards high

Post by met » Wed Dec 09, 2015 6:09 pm

Jim, still leaves the question... 'What else could it be that's causing it?' Which is an interesting question....

Or maybe not? Could just be that, in normal usage, we mean terms like 'you' and ' self' in different, if related senses quite often? :?
The “One” is the space of the “world” of the tick, but also the “pinch” of the lobster, or that rendezvous in person to confirm online pictures (with a new lover or an old God). This is the machinery operative...as “onto-theology."
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Jim B.
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Re: help me keep intellectual standards high

Post by Jim B. » Wed Dec 09, 2015 6:23 pm

met wrote:Jim, still leaves the question... 'What else could it be that's causing it?' Which is an interesting question....

Or maybe not? Could just be that, in normal usage, we mean terms like 'you' and ' self' in different, if related senses quite often? :?
That's a really good point. I think it goes back to stuff on the "Self" threads where I suggested at least a conceptual difference between the psychological self and the metaphysical self. If 'we' are nothing over and above our psychological selves, then it's difficult to see how we have any ultimate control over our actions or any accountability for them. "My beliefs and desires made me do it!" :mrgreen:

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Re: help me keep intellectual standards high

Post by met » Thu Dec 10, 2015 10:02 pm

Yes, but what else is there? What is the higher self? Is it us, or something else? And, in either case, why is it something that so-called lower species can't participate in?

Im not sure that "knowing right fron wrong" is specifically and intrinsically related to our special, highly developed abstracting,generalizing, so-called rational abilities.( Yes, they may allow us to widen the scope of our good deeds, but in the exact same sense, they can also intensify our propensity for evil doing, so I can't see how they could be intrinsically related...even if, perhaps, that idea is heresy here, on this philosophical discussion board called "Doxa" ... But I been reading up on Francois Laruelle and his non-philosophy concepts today, anyway. :o )

While I agree with KR's point above that the experiments discussed in the article would perhaps only indicate more advanced forms of "pro-social behavior" amoung some species than were assumed before, and not truly moral behavior, I can't see why our supposed advanced reasoning (or rationalizing?) capacities would necessarily help us transcend that in a way demonstrably unavailable to them. .... and, in fact, it may not be possible to design experiments to demonstrate that; a lot to of sociological experiments on people have tended to demonstrate our penchant for disturbingly amoral behaviors, rather than the opposite,. But otoh some of this may well just reflect the limits of what happens and what can be measured in a controlled experiment.
The “One” is the space of the “world” of the tick, but also the “pinch” of the lobster, or that rendezvous in person to confirm online pictures (with a new lover or an old God). This is the machinery operative...as “onto-theology."
Dr Ward Blanton

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KR Wordgazer
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Re: help me keep intellectual standards high

Post by KR Wordgazer » Thu Dec 10, 2015 11:24 pm

I think it would be interesting if they did a similar experiment with rats to see if they'd exhibit the same behavior (not eating if it caused a shock to another rat) if the rats receiving the shocks were strangers. If the rats could, in effect, think "it's wrong to do this to any rat" and not just "I don't want to hurt the members of my group," that would, in my mind, be evidence of higher moral reasoning and not just pro-social behavior.

I think, Met, that this is where our higher rational capacities take us-- when we exercise them. It does seem that too many people stay in the realm of mere pro-social behavior-- that is, they only care for the welfare of their own group or tribe.
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Jim B.
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Re: help me keep intellectual standards high

Post by Jim B. » Fri Dec 11, 2015 3:46 am

met wrote:Yes, but what else is there? What is the higher self? Is it us, or something else? And, in either case, why is it something that so-called lower species can't participate in?

Im not sure that "knowing right fron wrong" is specifically and intrinsically related to our special, highly developed abstracting,generalizing, so-called rational abilities.( Yes, they may allow us to widen the scope of our good deeds, but in the exact same sense, they can also intensify our propensity for evil doing, so I can't see how they could be intrinsically related...even if, perhaps, that idea is heresy here, on this philosophical discussion board called "Doxa" ... But I been reading up on Francois Laruelle and his non-philosophy concepts today, anyway. :o )

While I agree with KR's point above that the experiments discussed in the article would perhaps only indicate more advanced forms of "pro-social behavior" amoung some species than were assumed before, and not truly moral behavior, I can't see why our supposed advanced reasoning (or rationalizing?) capacities would necessarily help us transcend that in a way demonstrably unavailable to them. .... and, in fact, it may not be possible to design experiments to demonstrate that; a lot to of sociological experiments on people have tended to demonstrate our penchant for disturbingly amoral behaviors, rather than the opposite,. But otoh some of this may well just reflect the limits of what happens and what can be measured in a controlled experiment.
It depends on what we mean by "knowing right from wrong." If an animal knows which behaviors lead to what it understands as the most highly desired outcomes such as survival and flourishing for the group, then that would be "right" for the animal. But as KR pointed out, such a "code of conduct" wouldn't provide for a way to assess the "rightness" of the group one is a part of. One could be a member of the Mafia, for instance. In the experiment I referred to, the rat's criterion for "rightness" is determined by its strongest desire, in this case it's met by continually pressing the pleasure lever. So the rat knows "right from wrong" in a sense, even tho it neglects to eat cause it's always pressing the friggin lever, so it dies. According to the experiment, it doesn't appear able to step back and attempt to objectively assess its desires (notice I say "attempt" because objectivity is probably never completely attainable.)

If you define morality descriptively as a code of conduct practiced by some individuals somewhere, then maybe some non-humans could be capable of morality. The way I'm using it is the normative sense, a code of conduct that would be put forward ideally by all rational beings. It's a code of behavior that would have an ideal consensus. Notice these defintions involve phrases like "would have" "would be." It's what we're aiming at, not what is. Morality may never have been implemented anywhere at any time and it may never be, not completely. I think this kind of thinking requires language for self-modelling and modelling of long term future hypothetical states, thinking that has long-range conditionality built in. And the ability to universalize which seems to be language dependent. Maybe non-humans have this capacity, but the experiment I referred to suggest most probably don't. Some species have it to some degree. If this kind of thought is available to non-linguisitc animals, why would there be language, what's it's selectional advantage if not for higher order thinking? Non-humans can think, many can, but can they think about thinking? Are cats proto-ethicists?

The way I think of it, morality is the attempt to bring objectivity to bear on the will. It's thinking of oneself from a 3rd person perspective. Most of the time, we go through our day just doing pro-social activities like obeying driving laws, being polite, not running into other shoppers with your cart, etc. Those would be like the rat's behaviors, they'd make up a morality in the descriptive sense but not the normative sense.

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Re: help me keep intellectual standards high

Post by Metacrock » Fri Dec 11, 2015 7:47 am

KR Wordgazer wrote:I think it would be interesting if they did a similar experiment with rats to see if they'd exhibit the same behavior (not eating if it caused a shock to another rat) if the rats receiving the shocks were strangers. If the rats could, in effect, think "it's wrong to do this to any rat" and not just "I don't want to hurt the members of my group," that would, in my mind, be evidence of higher moral reasoning and not just pro-social behavior.

I think, Met, that this is where our higher rational capacities take us-- when we exercise them. It does seem that too many people stay in the realm of mere pro-social behavior-- that is, they only care for the welfare of their own group or tribe.
They could still have an instinct that says it's wrong, without knowing it's wrong.
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Re: help me keep intellectual standards high

Post by Metacrock » Fri Dec 11, 2015 7:50 am

Jim B. wrote:
met wrote:Yes, but what else is there? What is the higher self? Is it us, or something else? And, in either case, why is it something that so-called lower species can't participate in?

Im not sure that "knowing right fron wrong" is specifically and intrinsically related to our special, highly developed abstracting,generalizing, so-called rational abilities.( Yes, they may allow us to widen the scope of our good deeds, but in the exact same sense, they can also intensify our propensity for evil doing, so I can't see how they could be intrinsically related...even if, perhaps, that idea is heresy here, on this philosophical discussion board called "Doxa" ... But I been reading up on Francois Laruelle and his non-philosophy concepts today, anyway. :o )

While I agree with KR's point above that the experiments discussed in the article would perhaps only indicate more advanced forms of "pro-social behavior" amoung some species than were assumed before, and not truly moral behavior, I can't see why our supposed advanced reasoning (or rationalizing?) capacities would necessarily help us transcend that in a way demonstrably unavailable to them. .... and, in fact, it may not be possible to design experiments to demonstrate that; a lot to of sociological experiments on people have tended to demonstrate our penchant for disturbingly amoral behaviors, rather than the opposite,. But otoh some of this may well just reflect the limits of what happens and what can be measured in a controlled experiment.
It depends on what we mean by "knowing right from wrong." If an animal knows which behaviors lead to what it understands as the most highly desired outcomes such as survival and flourishing for the group, then that would be "right" for the animal. But as KR pointed out, such a "code of conduct" wouldn't provide for a way to assess the "rightness" of the group one is a part of. One could be a member of the Mafia, for instance. In the experiment I referred to, the rat's criterion for "rightness" is determined by its strongest desire, in this case it's met by continually pressing the pleasure lever. So the rat knows "right from wrong" in a sense, even tho it neglects to eat cause it's always pressing the friggin lever, so it dies. According to the experiment, it doesn't appear able to step back and attempt to objectively assess its desires (notice I say "attempt" because objectivity is probably never completely attainable.)

If you define morality descriptively as a code of conduct practiced by some individuals somewhere, then maybe some non-humans could be capable of morality. The way I'm using it is the normative sense, a code of conduct that would be put forward ideally by all rational beings. It's a code of behavior that would have an ideal consensus. Notice these defintions involve phrases like "would have" "would be." It's what we're aiming at, not what is. Morality may never have been implemented anywhere at any time and it may never be, not completely. I think this kind of thinking requires language for self-modelling and modelling of long term future hypothetical states, thinking that has long-range conditionality built in. And the ability to universalize which seems to be language dependent. Maybe non-humans have this capacity, but the experiment I referred to suggest most probably don't. Some species have it to some degree. If this kind of thought is available to non-linguisitc animals, why would there be language, what's it's selectional advantage if not for higher order thinking? Non-humans can think, many can, but can they think about thinking? Are cats proto-ethicists?

The way I think of it, morality is the attempt to bring objectivity to bear on the will. It's thinking of oneself from a 3rd person perspective. Most of the time, we go through our day just doing pro-social activities like obeying driving laws, being polite, not running into other shoppers with your cart, etc. Those would be like the rat's behaviors, they'd make up a morality in the descriptive sense but not the normative sense.

good poins Jim we are on the same page. I said moral decision making not just "being moral," I also say they have virtue because that's not just behavior.
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met
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Re: help me keep intellectual standards high

Post by met » Fri Dec 11, 2015 12:38 pm

Metacrock wrote:
KR Wordgazer wrote:I think it would be interesting if they did a similar experiment with rats to see if they'd exhibit the same behavior (not eating if it caused a shock to another rat) if the rats receiving the shocks were strangers. If the rats could, in effect, think "it's wrong to do this to any rat" and not just "I don't want to hurt the members of my group," that would, in my mind, be evidence of higher moral reasoning and not just pro-social behavior.

I think, Met, that this is where our higher rational capacities take us-- when we exercise them. It does seem that too many people stay in the realm of mere pro-social behavior-- that is, they only care for the welfare of their own group or tribe.
They could still have an instinct that says it's wrong, without knowing it's wrong.
Ultimately, how do we know something is wrong, except in exactly the same way? There's no way to demonstrate rightness or wrongness like with simple math operations - "2+2=5" is perhaps repudable with blocks or something; but "it's good to kill Slobovians cuz God hates 'em too..." really isn't. This is the gist of my objection here.

To which I'll add this Mary Jane Rubenstein quote that I've posted before ...
I would add that there is nothing
“irrational” about [...]gas chambers, machine guns, and chemical weapons.
The hands of Lady Reason are hardly clean here; it’s certainly not “faith”
that has produced weapons of small- and large-scale destruction; rather, it is
calculative, dispassionate, evidential, level-headed reason.
The “One” is the space of the “world” of the tick, but also the “pinch” of the lobster, or that rendezvous in person to confirm online pictures (with a new lover or an old God). This is the machinery operative...as “onto-theology."
Dr Ward Blanton

Jim B.
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Re: help me keep intellectual standards high

Post by Jim B. » Fri Dec 11, 2015 3:44 pm

met wrote:
Ultimately, how do we know something is wrong, except in exactly the same way? There's no way to demonstrate rightness or wrongness like with simple math operations - "2+2=5" is perhaps repudable with blocks or something; but "it's good to kill Slobovians cuz God hates 'em too..." really isn't. This is the gist of my objection here.

To which I'll add this Mary Jane Rubenstein quote that I've posted before ...
I would add that there is nothing
“irrational” about [...]gas chambers, machine guns, and chemical weapons.
The hands of Lady Reason are hardly clean here; it’s certainly not “faith”
that has produced weapons of small- and large-scale destruction; rather, it is
calculative, dispassionate, evidential, level-headed reason.
If we know something is right in exactly the same way that rats do, entirely through sentiments, feelings, desires, or however you characterize it, that wouldn't explain the vast changes in moral perceptions and judgments just in very recent history. You probably wouldn't think of these changes as "progress," but I'd say that some of them are progress, like the outlawing of slavery, equal rights for women and minorities, animal rights, etc. Pre-moral sentiments such as love, acceptance, belonging, nurturance, self-defense, purity, revulsion and disgust are the raw materials of morality, but we take these sentiments and we assess them from as 'objective' a stance as possible. Our evolving standards for objectivity might explain (in part) our evolving moral perceptions and judgments. These sentiments are the inevitable foundation of morality but don't determine it. If they did, moral standards would never change, since these sentiments probably don't change, or at least not that quickly.

No one's ever said that reason will always guide us to the morally best solution. If it did, we wouldn't be free or accountable. Nicholas of Cusa said that the "intellect is a whore." What Rubinstein is talking about is calculative reason, reasoning about the means, not about ends. The how but not as much the why. It's the capacity we have to always be able to step back and ask "But why am I doing this?" It's a capacity more than an actual state of affairs. Actual states will always be flawed and fall short; it's our capacity to potentially to wonder about this and try to know this that's crucial.

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